Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) Presents Embroidered Treasures. Textiles from Central Asia

Textiles in Central Asian cultures have been produced and cherished for centuries as indicators of a family’s wealth and social standing. More than a dozen captivating examples, painstakingly embroidered with silk threads in vibrant colors, from regions known today as Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikstan, are featured in Embroidered Treasures: Textiles from Central Asia on view at the BMA from November 13, 2011 through May 13, 2012.

The unique exhibition highlights personal works created for 19th- and 20th-century urban and nomadic homes, including an expansive wedding canopy (nearly 6 x 5 feet), prized suzani (wall hangings), prayer mats, and tent hangings. Not until recent decades have treasured textiles such as these been on view within the U.S. This exhibition is an exceptional opportunity to marvel at the artistry and ingenuity of young Central Asian brides and their female relatives who stitched floral designs and dramatic abstract representations of insects and animals in brilliant golds, reds, greens, purples, and additional vibrant colors on textiles created for their dowries.

Embroidered Treasures is drawn exclusively from the BMA’s diverse textiles collection, which spans nearly 2,000 years and includes more than 5,000 textiles. Recognized for its diversity, the collection ranges from ancient Coptic fragments to innovative late-20th and 21st-century Japanese fabrics to contemporary fiber art. It features examples of needlework, quilts, laces, furnishings, tapestries, costumes, accessories, wallpaper, and needlework tools from America, Europe, India, Japan, China, the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Central Asia. These works are displayed in thematic rotating exhibitions in the Museum’s Jean and Allan Berman Textile Gallery.

The Baltimore Museum of Art is home to an internationally renowned collection of 19th-century, modern, and contemporary art. Founded in 1914, the BMA’s outstanding collection encompasses 90,000 works of art, including the largest and most significant holding of works by Henri Matisse in the world, as well as masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, and Vincent van Gogh. An expanding collection of contemporary art features iconic post-1960 works by Andy Warhol and Sol LeWitt, as well as exciting acquisitions by artists such as Kara Walker and Olafur Eliasson. The BMA is also recognized for an internationally acclaimed collection of prints, drawings, and photographs from the 15th-century to the present; grand European painting and sculpture from Old Masters to the 19th-century; distinguished American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts and Maryland period rooms; one of the most important African collections in the country, and notable examples of Asian, ancient American, and Pacific Islands art.

General admission to the BMA is free; special exhibitions may be ticketed. The BMA is open Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. (except major holidays). The Museum is closed Monday, Tuesday, New Year’s Day, July 4, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The BMA is located on Art Museum Drive at North Charles and 31st Streets, three miles north of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. For general Museum information, call 443-573-1700 or visit

Image: Detail, Embroidered Cover or Small Hanging. Borpush or Nimsuzani. Possibly Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Early 20th century. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of Jerry Maizlish, Sparks, Maryland, BMA 1991.446

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